Since the new UK igaming laws operators have begun to see the United Kingdom as an unattractive market to set up shop, that’s the recent assessment by Gibraltar’s Betting and Gaming Association CEO, Peter Howitt.
During an interview with eGaming Review, Howitt explained that the new 15% Point of Consumption (POC) tax and the lack of communication between UK igaming operators and politicians is having a negative impact on the industry.
A Need for Change
“The way the UK has gone about recent changes to regulation and tax has destabilized the confidence in the UK for some operators,” said Howitt when asked to comment on the differences between Gibraltar and the UK.
Following up this statement, Howitt suggested that the UK is becoming an increasingly unattractive place to invest because the government doesn’t appear to support the industry.
Comparing the market to that in Gibraltar, Howitt claimed that “many operators aren’t getting that feeling [of confidence] from the UK.”
Although the situation is far from bleak, Howitt believes that more needs to be done by politicians and those in the gaming industry to foster a new, more positive, relationship for the good of the UK igaming economy.
In referencing his own jurisdiction, Howitt believes that the recent changes to the UK’s online gambling market, plus Gibraltar’s high concentration of igaming experts, have made the island an attractive investment opportunity for operators.
“We are seeing a bit of consolidation in the gambling hub space in terms of jurisdictions and I think Gibraltar is going to do well as there are factors here that don’t apply in others jurisdictions.
There’s a large service sector with more than 3,000 highly skilled people working in the online gambling sector and that puts you in a good position when you are trying to encourage new businesses to come to Gibraltar.”
A Fresh Challenge in 2015
As for the UK’s gambling laws as they stand today, Howitt and the Gibraltar Betting and Gambling Association (GBGA) are planning another legal challenge in 2015.
Earlier this year the GBGA managed to delay the new legislation after claiming it discriminates against foreign operators and doesn’t protect players. Although unsuccessful, the GBGA was granted permission to mount another legal challenge against the 15% POC tax in 2015.
Despite taking on the UK government in a debate over tax, Howitt is confident that his organization has some valid points to make in court.
Stopping short of suggesting that a legal victory would be possible, Howitt did tell eGaming Review that the GBGA believes it has some “key issues that need to be raised.”
As it stands today, online gaming operators in the UK are currently trying to navigate the new legal landscape and it will likely be a few more months before the real impact of the new laws are felt. Whether that means a lack of growth as Howitt suggests remains to be seen.